Flyfishing report: Saltwater - Garden Route

Date of Report: Monday, 20th November 2023
Name: Chris Wood
Phone: 083 453 3774

Following more rain than I have ever witnessed coupled with a rather grim winter down here on the Garden Route, finally it is exciting to see that things are slowly returning to normal, and it looks like we are going to have an epic summer season on the fly.

Kynsna Lagoon seems to have settled back to normal and some good catches of Grunter coming out regularly. The upper reaches still have to “fire” again but each day I am seeing more and more “nervous waters” indicating a return of the fish we love to target. Generally, the waters are turning back from that horrible brown we had during and post the deluge.

The aggregation of Blue Stingrays has moved from their usual spot near The Waterfront and can now be found at Belvidere Jetty. Kyle Smith from San Parks commented that they were being hammered by seals so just moved off to find a quieter spot.


Blue stingray

Touws estuary by Peter Sowerby

Touws is open and fishing, but these waters are limited on fly….not heard of any catches recently.

 Swartvlei report by Daniel Smith

Swartvlei is open and fishing. Good catches of grunter and steebras coming out from around the mouth and the usual big leeries taken from area around the train bridge (on lure).


Swartvlei has had an explosion of weed in shallows. This makes fishing more challenging. SANPARKS say is a natural cycle (and not from the fertilizer used in the new avo plantations, as I suspected). There are still plenty of leeries and grunter, but one needs patience and a challenge if not impossible on the fly. With bait what's quite fun are the newly arrived Natal stump which are getting to the 3kg mark. And don't forget the monster elf and occasional cob....


Swartvlei mouth

Editor’s report:

Goukama is open and shallow, warm water. Plenty of picky grunter to be seen but sadly there are also many “subsistence bait fishermen” lining the shores with multiple rods out. I managed to wet a line while hosting my staff for their annual Christmas Bash at the Cape Nature cabins. Landed one nice Leerie but no pic so technically it didn’t happen…damn 😉

Big shout out to Cape Nature, Goukama is a special place and it felt like we were in a place not unsimilar to our beloved Zimbabwe, sunsets and all!


Goukama estuary.


Sunset at Goukama


Neil Malan landed grunter number 92! This man put in the hours and Keurbooms is his “honeypot”, this one caught on Die Spookvlieg which has established itself as the number one “go-to” fly for our estuary systems.


Neil Malan

It is well worth having this fly in your box. So far it has caught spotted grunter, white steenbras, lots of garrick, shad, Southern mullet, Striped mullet, Cape Moonies, stingray, Bluefin kingfish …..

News from the waters: There is still a huge amount of sand that has entered the Keurbooms lagoon. The area between the Keurbooms Caravan park and the Lookout Deck is getting shallower and very few grunter have been seen or caught, even by bait fishermen. That said, I was there the one day and I saw quite a few grunter, and a few huge ones, entering the one high tide. Two of these fish were particularly large, >80cm, and I managed to get in a perfect cast and the one fish started following Die Spookvlieg… the next moment it was “fish on”, but unfortunately a much smaller grunter stole the fly. I caught another grunter on Die Spookvlieg in Knysna. Both fish tagged. Apart from that quite a few juvenile Garrick tagged, and the odd Southern Mullet caught. No Striped Mullet seen.

The water in the Bitou has been very peat stained and I haven’t fished it in a while.


Keurbooms at the mouth photo by Neil Malan.

Robin Fick’s report

Lots of fresh water in Gouritz and Braks. Must follow the tides for any chance of fish.

Last week we caught a lot of undersize Kob offshore on slow jigging. Water has warmed up since so will be looking for Bonnies this week.

Leeries coming out at Benekes Klip, Hartenbos on lure. Have caught these in the past on 2/0 poppers cast into the small surf.


Salty Buggers December Fling

Luke Van der Heever is running the first GRFF all estuaries on fly competition on December 17th, prizes are being sought and details of the event will be available on the WhatsApp group and the GRFF Facebook site, Stay tuned!

Fishing areas: Gourits to Natures Valley



BassOnFly @ Portland

Yes, another successful GRFF event happened on Saturday 18th we are getting used to this fishery and its moods with duck weed being a new challenge until it blows out. Many fish caught and this will turn into a bi annual event.


Good sized bass

(Pic)GRFF raised R900 for KAWS from the sale of flys and donation by member “Megalops”..


So that’s it for 2023, I am off to the Zambezi on Thursday until December 7th, then to Gabon with clients from January 2nd to 13th. I wish the FOSAF members an awesome festive season and may your lines be tight and your beers bitterly cold. Cheers from the awesome Garden Route, we will see you in the 2024!